Former child actor Todd Bridges has again spoken out about sexual abuse he suffered as a kid in Hollywood.
The actor, who played Willis Jackson on the 1980’s hit show “Diff’rent Strokes,” told Dr. Mehmet Oz that he was molested by a family friend and publicist when he was 11-years-old on the “Dr. Oz” show, set to air on Friday.
In his 2010 book “Killing Willis: From Diff’rent Strokes to the Mean Streets to the Life I Always Wanted,” Bridges accused a man he called Ronald of sexually abusing him as a child.
“When it happened the second time, I thought it meant that I was gay,” Bridges wrote in the book. “I was very confused. I really believed I wasn’t normal and that made me feel even worse about myself than I had before.”
He wrote of how scared he was to break the cycle of abuse because “I had wanted him to like and care about me for so long, it was hard for me to feel like I was disappointing him. That’s how successfully he had gotten into my brain.”
But everything changed when the alleged abuser visited Bridges home one day “as carefree as ever,” and Bridges attacked him. He wrote that, as he was hitting Ronald, his mother attempted to get him to stop, until he told her what Ronald had done.
“My mom ran out of the room and came back with a butcher knife. I felt such a sense of relief when I saw that knife. She wasn’t mad at me. She was going to help me get free of Ronald. He would never be able to touch me again,” he wrote.
It got tough for Bridges on the set of “Diff’rent Strokes” when the series filmed its infamous “The Bicycle Man” two part episodes.
In those episodes, a pedophile character, Mr. Horton, a bicycle store owner played by “WKRP In Cincinnati” star Gordon Jump, grooms Willis’ brother, Arnold Jackson, and his friend Dudley, in an effort to molest them.
The Horton character plies Arnold and Dudley with alcohol and gifts and insists they keep their get-togethers a secret.
Mr. Horton proceeded to participate in photoshoots with the being half dressed kids , and shares pornography with them.
The two part special was extremely edgy for its time, and is still a tough series of episodes to watch for many, particularly for Bridges who participated in them.
“I didn’t let on that the material in the script upset me,” Bridges wrote. “That was a very hard week for me, and I pushed my feelings down, hard.”
Bridges wrote about how other victims of pedophilia, like Corey Feldman, had a tough time understanding that the issue goes beyond them and their personal experiences.
In recent weeks Feldman has been on a campaign to expose Hollywood’s sick pedophile secrets, which often result in abused victims using drugs to self medicate.
Bridges said in 2010 that he reached out to Feldman’s best friend, Corey Haim, another alleged sexual abuse victim, about the drug problem that ultimately claimed his life.
“I had tried to get Corey to stop taking prescription drugs and take care of his life,” he told the “Today” show. “I tried to get him to understand that there was a different way out.”
“He wasn’t ready to stop,” he said of Haim, who died at age 38, the week before Bridges’ appearance on “Today.” “The thing about drug addiction is, sometimes people are ready to stop and sometimes they’re not. You have to have it in your mind that you’re ready to stop.”
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